ISW: Russia planning new offensive

Russia is preparing to launch a new offensive in the coming weeks once the ground in southern and eastern Ukraine freezes, the Institute for the Study of War reported in its daily assessment on Jan. 14.

Numerous Russian sources are claiming that the military will launch a large offensive effort in Ukraine, according to reports. Some sources estimate that offensive could begin sometime between Jan. 12 and Feb. 2 after the ground freezes and Ukraine grows "exhausted" of defending their position. Importantly, although the number of personnel on the frontline enables Russia to conduct localized activities, sources not that the Russian military would not likely be able to support operationally significant "breakthroughs."

Cold weather conditions appear to be affecting ground activities on both sides. Ukrainian forces in the southern parts of the country also reported that Russian aviation is unable to operate in the region due to freezing weather.

ISW previously assessed that frozen conditions are likely constraining operations along the front. Russia will likely try to sustain or intensify localized offensive operations across eastern Ukraine in order to gain and maintain initiative even with less favorable winter weather. However, ISW also asses that Russia will not be able to make operationally significant breakthroughs.

Additionally, ISW also reports that the Russian Investigative Committee will officially launch an investigation into the massive fire that swept through a warehouse in St. Petersburg on Jan. 13 belonging to one of Russia's biggest online stores, Wildberries. The fire reportedly affected at least 70,000 square meters of the property.

Unnamed sources close to Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations told the Russian media outlet RBC that arson was one of the possible causes, and an investigation had begun into how the fire started. Other sources also said that the damages from the blaze could surpass 11 billion rubles ($125 million).

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